Friday, July 21st, Ria de Camarinas, Galicia, Spain
One of the greatest
delights of traveling lies in discovery. Seeking
out fabulous new restaurants and cuisines ranks high
among those pleasures for the Zia crew. Living in
the metropolitan DC area for many years, Joe and I
explored the varied tastes of the world from the
convenience of our back yard. Indian vindaloos,
Ethiopian wats, Lebanese tabouli, Mexican tacos,
Mongolian barbeque, Italian pasta, French Béarnaise,
Spanish tapas, Maryland blue crabs, and good old
American steaks all beckoned less than fifty miles away.
Today, our reality differs dramatically. Fifty
miles now constitutes an eight hour trip in the boat
instead of an hour's drive in the car, and the vast
array of familiar restaurants recedes in the face
of an immense new frontier of untried
Newly arrived in
Europe, we enthusiastically confront our new reality.
Europe! It is steeped in centuries' old traditions
of good food, good wine, good living. They've got
it all figured out over here. Fond memories of
fabulous tapas extravaganzas tickle our appetites.
After any passage, no matter how long, we eagerly
anticipate a good meal ashore. The Zia crew
embarks on a quest to find the perfect restaurant.
Having arrived in
Baiona early in the morning, we take the time to explore
and investigate our choices before committing ourselves.
We stumble upon a "Xamoneria," tables neatly arranged in
a quiet outdoor square. Naturally, at 6pm, we are
the only ones there.
"The kitchen won't be
open for another hour," a friendly waiter informs us, we
Our limited ability to
communicate succeeds in producing a couple of beers and
a menu for our perusal.
"Jamon, I think, is
ham. Salchicha is salami or sausage. And
they have some different kinds of queso or cheese.
I'm not sure about the rest of this stuff."
We agree to take the
menu back to our resident Spanish expert on Cenou before
suggesting it to the whole crowd. Meeting his
approval for setting as much as food offerings, our
group of "Trans-At" celebrants partake of a simple
repast of bread, dried meats, a variety of cheeses, and
salad. Plenty more opportunities for that ideal
meal remain in store.
After a good nights'
sleep and a light breakfast onboard, lunch beckons.
We find the crew of Cenou and join them at a more formal
restaurant, again outdoors in a square. In his
element, with a heaping plate of pulpo adorned with
nothing more than lemon wedges in front of him, Claude
prepares to feast. Steamed octopus appeals
to us not at all. In my never ending quest to loose
ten pounds, I opt for the ensalada mista. Whoa!
Mixed refers not to mixed greens, as it has in all of
our minds to date, but to mixed ingredients, including
onions, asparagus, tomatoes, lettuce, and tuna.
Luckily, I like tuna on my salad. Encouraged by
the look of the Tortilla Espanola, Joe orders it up.
Always a fan of breakfast, an omelet with potatoes and
onions fits the bill and sounds pretty authentic to
boot! Disappointment tinges his features only when
the "salsa picante" turns out to be nothing more than
Tabasco. No worries. We're doing okay, if
not hitting home runs. Besides, the kids love the
patatas fritas. We'll find that tapas meal next
We have one more lunch
in Baiona, at yet another outdoor restaurant, choosing a
table next to the small fountain in the middle of the
square. Hamburguesas are on the menu, right next
to the cheese plate.
"Could we please have a
hamburguesa con queso?"
"No, no hai."
discuss our options, not the least of which is leaving,
and decide to give our surly waiter one more chance.
"Es possible, por
favor, aver queso con la hamburguesa?"
Reluctantly, he agrees to go ask the chef.
"Si, si. Es
possible. Dos hamburguesas con queso y patatas
With the kids taken
care of, our fate looms undecided. Emboldened by
the English description of zorza, Joe branches out to
try the pork in pepper sauce. We had discovered
that the raciones are actually dishes big enough for two
so one racione and a salad suffices. Or it would
have sufficed except the pork required a lot of jaw work
and the pepper sauce fell flat on our spice-loving
tongues. Joe hadn't learned the ensalada mista
lesson and balked at the tuna. Darn!
This eating out in
Spain is kind of hard.
I know, next time we'll
try the bocadillos. Maybe the tapas of our
imaginations masquerade as bocadillos.
The bocadillos turn out
to be sandwiches.
that sounds familiar. Empanada atun doesn't sound
"Empanada de carne?"
Our non English
speaking waitress smiles agreeably and delivers the
requested slice of pie. What looks like ham pokes
out from between two perfectly browned, salty crusts.
Joe enthusiastically takes the first bite. His
quizzical expression turns slightly sour as he dons a
strained smile and offers the girls a taste. We
all choked down a bite before he revealed the interior
of the mystery pie to us. Imagine, if you will, a
layer of brown fish paste topped with perfectly round,
dime-sized, rubbery pieces of squid. I hope we
didn't offend the chef by leaving the majority of it
sitting on the table as we ventured off in search of
something a little more palatable.
In the small villages
along the coast, Aldan, Bueu, Muros, we find the same
Galician cuisine in slightly different settings.
The calamares fritas satisfy Cassie and me, but Joe is
not a huge seafood fan. He enjoys the occasional
dish and perseveres, but deep down he craves a good cut
of meat. No matter which raciones of meat we
order, it arrives tough and greasy on top of a bed of
french fries. We go to the pizza joint. This
ain't Italy. After a few more failed excursions,
we dine onboard.
Santiago de Compostela
is a big, international tourist town located 80
kilometers east of Muros. We leave the boat at
anchor, hop on the autobus and venture off into
the interior of the region for a day of discovery, and
hopefully, a decent restaurant. The mammoth
cathedral which marks the grave of the Apostle James,
attracting hundreds of thousands of religious pilgrims
every year, compensates our efforts. We ogle the
ornate gilt altar and enshrined remains of Saint James
until we can't put it off any longer. It is time
for lunch. Determined to let Joe find what he
seeks so patiently, he scrutinizes menu after menu while
the girls and I wander the streets ahead or behind,
window shopping in the souvenir stores. Patience
begins to wane as two o'clock approaches.
"Just a little more
walking girls. Daddy is going to find us a great
spot for lunch."
"Mom, I'm so hungry,"
as two thirty rolls around.
"Hang in there girls.
You're doing great."
Finally, at three
o'clock, the search ends. Joe gives up. We
find the nearest restaurant and order up the tabla, a
plate of mixed salami, Serrano ham, hard sausages and
cheese, served with a basket of bread. Joe doesn't
Pilgrims from around
the world go to Santiago de Compostela to find peace and
serenity. The Zia crew returns full of
We just arrived in a
town called Camarinas. I'm making tacos for
dinner. Maybe another day we will resume our
battle with Galician cuisine. We don't quit
easily. After all, we are still hoping to spend
the whole winter in Spain.
Many thanks to our
friend Craig Homenko for his assistance in setting up
We also would like
to thank our buddy Scott Brunner who has been kind
enough to host the website on his server.